Each day, I come away more impressed with the performance Randy Howell has been putting together. Each day, it takes longer and longer for him to catch his limit, but he manages to hang in there and stay consistent when so many other anglers have fallen off the pace. It looks like once again, largemouth with be part of the winning bag (Howell caught one yesterday and Duckett caught one today) but much less so than in the past.
Both anglers and Rook relied heavily on smallmouth bass, which reflects a shifting paradigm on Oneida Lake started by Chad Griffin when he won a few years ago. I don't know what exactly is causing it - increased largemouth pressure, lower water levels, hotter summer - but smallmouth are dominating this tournament.
To complicate things a little further, if Howell wins today, that would automatically free up another place in the Elite Series points for a Classic berth. So 32 places on the points list would be safe (34 if Brent Chapman and Chris Lane fish the Opens and up to 36 if the last two Opens are won by Elite Series pros currently ahead of the cut-off). Whew, that is a mouthful. That means even if he doesn't win, Rook could still qualify by virtue of a Howell win. If Duckett wins, he will have to hope one of the last two Opens is won by an Elite Series angler.